Monday, September 27, 2004

The Best Thing About...

2600 Magazine - It's size. It's just small enough to fit in your back pocket, so when you're taking it to the bathroom for some light reading, you're not shouting to everyone "HEY! I'M ON MY WAY TO TAKE A POOP, AND I'M TAKING THIS HERE COPY OF THE WASHINGTON POST WITH ME". Cuz sometimes you just don't want to do that.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Sung to the tune of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer":

"Out on the road today I saw a "Kerry/Edwards" sticker Cadillac." Escallade, no less. The newest addition to my "things I never thought I'd see" list.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A day late, a dollar short.

Two days ago I decided to buy a 10 pack of those Lance Armstrong Foundation yellow cancer bracelets that everybody in the world is wearing. I was resisting the temptation to get them earlier, simply because everybody has them. But, after further consideration, I decided that it was an easy, cool way to drop a couple of bucks into the cancer research fund, and get a nifty conversation piece at the same time. I have both family and friends who've been affected by cancer (breast cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, throat cancer). Thankfully, as far as any of us know, my family is cancer free at the moment, but when you look at the history, it's prolly safe to say that my day is coming.

The thing that spurred me to action was the toddler-nephew of a longtime friend. The friend (we'll call him 'Nick" to protect his privacy) and I have known each other, I believe, since Cub Scouts. He's one of those friends who you've known so long, you don't really remember how you met. Nick's brother and sister-in-law had a son a couple of years ago. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Nick would send out regular email updates (almost like blog entried from his brother) as to Ethan's condition (some days were better than others) and treatments (stem cell harvests and things no toddler should have to endure) and general goings-on (Make-A-Wish Foundation family trip to Disneyworld).

I've been getting these email updates for a while...a year, maybe more. Recently, they had been sounding less optimistic. So I thought to myself "Ok, I'll get some of those Lance Armstron bracelets in the nephew's (Ethan's) name and give them out to friends and it will help me keep him in mind and remind me to send good vibes his way. Done. Order placed, they should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Around 6pm the same day I placed my order, I got this update:

September 21, 2004 at 07:44 AM CDT

It's Over.

Ethan died this morning in his sleep, a little after 7am central.

No more pain.


Damn. Now I'll be wearing the bracelet in his memory.

Farewell, young Ethan. I'm glad your pain is gone. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A couple more shots of the tornado. These were taken by a buddy of mine Frank Clarke, one of the guys from the shop who was out in the rain with me.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Just when you thought it couldn't get any dumber, along comes Hummer, the smell!

I wonder what it smells like? Exhaust? Doubt it. A terribly overpriced, inefficient gasoline engine. Methinks not. Maybe it smells like oil rigs pumping the life out of the Alaskan wildernes? One can only hope. Maybe it's time for an update to FUH2? Maybe "FYH2smell2" (F*ck your H2 smell too!)? The new rules of the game can be thus:

--Go to the mall, find a sample of H2 cologne.
--Sniff. Commit smell to memory.
--Go about your life as usual.
--When you pass someone on the street wearing the offending smell, punch them in the nuts without provocation.
--Continue on with your life as usual.
--You win! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Call me paranoid (no, can...I know you do when I'm not around anyway), but I firmly believe addresses for rebates on (and returns of defective) computer equipment are explicitly designed to be as complicated as possible. That way, we consumers have more chance to mess up the address, and comapnies have more chance of getting out of giving you your money (or your new, unbroken product). Case in point: I had a piece-of-shit-I-swear-I-will-never-buy-another-f*cking-Maxtor-hard-
-drive-as-long-as-I-live hard drive which died on me in less than a year. I contacted Maxtor and set up a return (easy enough...but it should be, they must have a hell of a lot of practice at this by now!). Upon receiving the new, less broken product, I was instructed to mail my busted drive to (and I quote):

ATTN: RMA# 99999999999
STE 100
DOCK 6-7

I swear to go I've mailed thigns to Japan with less complicated addresses. I have no idea where I'm gonna squeeze all that crap on a FedEx label.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Pictures to prove it

So here are the two most interesting/clear shots of my stormchasing yesterday. Post-processed a bit in Gimp and Neat Image (for noise reduction). Shot with the new 20D at ISO1600 (so I didn't need the flash) The first pic was shot through the showroom windows, the second from standing out in the rain behind the shop.

The scale is hard to judge cuz it's about a half mile away. But this thing was *huge*. It's closer in the second pic, so the size appears more correct.

Full Sized image is here.

Full sized version of this is here.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Holy f*ck! What an afternoon!

Left work at 4 and went to kill time at the Ferrari dealership at which I kinda work. I wasn't picking my kid up till 7, so I figured I'd go take some pix of the fancy cars with my fancy new camera (did I tell you I actually got it?).

All the cars were crammed inside the shop area cuz of the coming storm (remnants of Ivan), so I took a bunch of pix but was pretty unhappy with all of them.

About time to leave, and one of the Ferrari employees and I plan to run over to the Burger King for a soda. Standing in the lobby of Ferrari, somebody says "Hey, there was a tornado sighted at Dulles Airport" (maybe 4 miles away). I look out the 30' tall wall of windows and say "yeah,'s right there!".

Bearing down on us, maybe a mile away is the first and only funnel cloud I've seen in real life. It was pretty f*cking amazing.

Needless to say, I started snapping pictures (a feat that would have been near impossible with my old camera). Snap snap snap, watch it get closer, snap snap snap, still closer, snap snap snap, catch a frame with weird blue and red flashes from the transformer that just exploded, snap snap snap, " there a door on this side of the building?". Watched the tornado approach to about 1/2 a mile away (now standing out in the rain with my 24 hour old camera). The tornado starts to wander off to the right and keeps about a 1/2 mile away, but clearly visible the whole time. As it starts rounding the corner of the building, two of us with cameras run down the length of the building, stopping to snap occasionally. We didn't know at the time, but another guy ran up to the roof and was snapping shots of the funnel from there.

From there, the funnel wanders off to a mile or two away (flying debris clearly visible) and dissapates (as far as we can tell). So afterwards we all stand around the shop, with our adreniline highs, showing each other our pix. Hopefully we got some keepers. Prolly won't really know till we all check them on our computers.

So, after that, I pick up my kid, go grocery shopping and get home (hours later) to find the 20d that I ordered from Ritz Camera had been delivered to my door. Apparently left on the doorstep for my roommate to bring in. Thanks Ritz. Nothing like leaving f*cking $1500 worth of stuff sitting on my porch...*in a hurricane*!!! The best part is that it was supposed to be delivered to my office. I think I'm swearing off Ritz. They really are pretty crappy. Unfortunately, I have to deal with them at least once more to return this camera (since I ended up buying one yesterday from a really cool little shop...becuase Ritz was still telling me I wouldn't get my camera from them until the end of the month). F*'em.

Anyway, crazy insane afternoon. Hope to have some pix to post somewhere soon. Gotta install software and tinker with computers before that will happen tho. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I don't care what happens. I don't care what is done to me. I don't care if I'm robbed at gunpoint, sodimized by escaped circus monkeys, or hit by a falling 747...I never want to appear on the 6:00 news with the text:

Gary Ryan


describing me. Ever.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Went for one o' rides last night. Man, it's been a looong time. Took the SS out and decided to hit Accotink. Instead of parking at Wakefield and riding that boring-ass cinder path I headed over and parked by the playground/staircase and headed onto the trails. Rode for something more than an hour. Tried to hit some trails we don't usually ride just for a change of pace. Had a great ride. The trails were in good condition. I really like riding solo. Moving nearly silently through the woods, startling squirrels who don't hear you until the last minute.

Had planned to take the kayak out and take some pix tonight, but the weather reports calling for rain, and the overcast, heavy skies lead me to abandon that idea. No sense getting my current camera wet when it's about to go up on ebay and finance my new baby. (Which, Ritz Camera tells me, I'll have to wait till the end of the month for...while other people have already started receiving them...argh, the suspense!).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sionara assault weapons ban. It was nice knowing you. FUGWB (I've decided that I'm going to refer to him as FUGWB ("Fuck You George W Bush") from now on, instead of just "W" or "GWB") decided that it was time to let you die, in spite of you having the backing of former presidents Ford, Carter, Reagen and Clinton as well as the Fraternal Order of Police. What better way to honor your dead-gipper-hero Ron, Georgieboy. Hopefully the FOP is reconsidering it's "full support" of that fucking mongoloid in office. Nice work boys. Hope you keep busy out there. Guess that's what you call job security?

I must say that I'm not even one of those super left-wing anti-gun people. I don't mind responsible ownership of firearms. I don't mind responsible use of firearms. I don't mind responsible sale of firearms. What I do mind is bullshit reasons for needing weapons of war. If you gotta use an AK47 to kill bambi, redneck, it's time for a new hobby. Try knitting. I also mind these gun shows where rednecks come for a pilgramage (like a fucking redneck Mecca) to buy and trade guns outside the bounds of the law. That shit just need to be stopped.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

You know what I love? The guys who go into the restroom here at work, take a piss, walk over to the sink area, check their hair in the mirror, and leave. Classy.

Hey prettyboy, you want a hint on how to woo the ladies? Try washing the piss off of your hands.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Ben did some updates to last week. He added a "contact us" page, as well as a "here's how to buy our stuff" page. I don't think either of us are expecting huge sales, but with the posts we've made on craigslist advertising out digital shots that are essentially free, we've had some interest.

Both Ben and I have added a few new shots to the site as well. My latest are from a fireworks show at Accotink Park this past weekend.

So I've preordered my new baby. Canon 20d. It's more camera than I was originally considering in the 300d. It's the new version of the 10d. After weeks of research, it was clear to me that the 300d wasn't gonna be the camera for me. Just too many disabled features/drawbacks. I had moved on to considering the 10d, but then rumors started to surface about a replacement to that camera. I waited it out and was totally impressed by the new model. Basically, it's a couple of hundred bucks more than the 10d, but well worth it with all the improvements (specifically an additional 2MP resolution, better low-light performance, better flash, better ISO noise handling, and the new canon ef-s lens mount). Hopefully, all of these improvements will allow me to do things I'm having a hard time doing with my current camera. Oh, and hopefully they'll enable me to sell a ton of prints, pay off the camera, and take a fancy vacation with my girl (*cough*and my camera*cough*) somewhere cool :)

Friday, September 03, 2004

When does checking receipts at the door become illegal search?

Shopping at a electronics chain-store (screw it, I'm pissed at them, so no sense in hiding their was Circuit City) the other day, I buy a cheap sound card and speakers. The cashier tells me "keep your receipt handy, they're going to check it at the door". So I ask him, "at what point does checking receipts at the door become illegal search?". He, being a cashier at an electronics store, gives me the complimentary "deer in the headlights" look that is given to anyone asking anything out of the ordinary. And even some of the ordinary ones too. He stammers and hemmms and haws and finally says "uhh, I really don't know, that's probably something better asked of the store manager". At this point, I fail you all, my gentile readers, because I don't ask to talk to the manager. I really should have asked him this question.

As I'm leaving the store, just as door-goon-guy is asking to look at my receipt (and as I keep my purchases on the opposite side of my body from him so he really has no idea what's in my bag...for all he knows I'm walking out of there with a baby llama), I ask him the same question: "when does checking my receipt become illegal search"? His answer was better, but in hindsight, still not good. He said "I think it would be illegal search if store employees wanted to look in the personal bag/purse that belonged to a customer. All we do is look at the merchandise that comes from our store". Unfortunately, I accept this without too much further inquisition (basking in the small victory that while he looked at my receipt, my baby llama is safely hidden in the bag at which he never looked).

Had I been 'on my game', my brain would have given me these follow-up items which should have been mentioned:

After I've paid for it, isn't it my merchandise? The store no longer has any claim to it. What if I choose to put it in my backpack instead of a store bag? What if I decided to put it in my underwear? What if I decide to unwrap it at the cash register and put it on the ground and smash it? If I've already paid for it, that's totally within my rights. It's not the store's merchandise anymore. It's mine. And it is (or it should be) illegal for them to go through my stuff without probably cause. And that leads me back to my original ascertain of "illegal search". I think I may have to go back to that store this weekend and buy something small and test out my theories. Probably need to do some internet reading on the subject before I go picking fights.

This policy of checking receipts at the door after a customer has bough items is a policy I've always, always been leery of. Ever since the days I worked at Price Club (now Costco) and was one of the door-goons checking receipts. I checked daily through the entire Christmas season (October through January). Hundreds, if not thousands of people every day. And to my knowledge neither I nor any of my door-goon-coworkers ever found anybody trying to wander out the front door with a TV hidden among his bulk paper-towels and 16 gallon pickle jars. None. Never.

One day, maybe every customer who shops in a 'illegal search' store will tire of being treated like a criminal for simply purchasing their merchandise and trying to take it home.